aka My First Tiger Ride.
I got an invitation to crew for a Tiger at Fleet 95's Sudden Valley regatta in northern Washington state. It was my first time on a Tiger, and it was a blast!
Day 1 started off cold and rainy - hardly what you'd think of as July weather. Winds were light to very light and made the races tricky. We ran a windward mark and a downwind gate course. Unfortunatley, we were the only Tiger there, and we started with the 18's.
With such light wind, crew- and boat-weight were a deciding factor. The 18's beat us handily in all 3 races that day (we'll blame it on boat weight and extra drag from the spinnaker rig, not on the weight of those sitting on the deck *cough*). Indeed, on the second race we got passed by the 1st-place 17, who started after us. After nearly having to paddle in the 3rd race, the rest of the day was called off and we headed (slowly) for the beach.
Day 2 was iffy at first but ended up being an amazing day. We all headed out on the lake early into the sun. Light puffs were off and on, with many lulls and dead spots. After milling around for half an hour, we were all called to shore again. One saving grace was that it was warm and sunny - we all had fun tossing water at other boats, swimming, and lounging.
Thankfully, a steady breeze picked up again before noon, and we all headed out again. 3 more races today, with a windward and downwind mark and mid-course start/finish. Windspeed was up to ~10 by the first race and we handily beat the 18's, making massive gains on the downwind run with our neon spinnaker.
All in all, we got 1st out of 1! Go us! Still, it was an absolute blast on day 2. Windspeed picked up even more on the 3rd race and the downwind run got very, very fast. I had spent most of my time on the leeward hull, especiialy in the lighter winds of the day before, so it was a surprise when my skipper started having to manage our balance differently.
I come up from the leeward hull and am basically hugging the mast now, craning my neck up to make sure the trim is ok on the spinnaker.
"Windward hull, quick!"
I crawl up and sit on the windward hull. We are really picking up speed, and the wave-piercing hulls start to throw water up onto me.
"Grab the skipper's trap, I need you standing behind me."
Wow. I struggle to hook up the correct wire and keep the spinnaker sheet in my hand - it is pulling quite hard and, while the line runs through a light ratchet block, it is still difficult to hold.
"I really need you out there, pick it up!"
I finally get out on the wire. I am used to being up on the rails of a 16; standing lower on the side of the hull of the Tiger is a different (and wetter!) experience. We are moving amazingly fast in maybe 14-knot winds, but thanks to the trapeze I can see ahead, to the lee side, the spinnaker luff, and can use my legs to help pull on the sheet. We pass downwind of another boat and the spinnaker folds momentaraly; the hull dips and my rear hits the water. I sheet in hard on the spinnaker and it fills again; I let it back out to trim and we are flying once more.
We round the downwind mark after I douse the spinnaker. As we are headed back up, we stop for a moment.
"This was a long course, ACACA witha downwind finish, right?"
"Umm, how many spinnaker sets have you done?"
"3, this race, I think."
Now let's think about this - we had just rounded the downwind mark after 3 downwind runs. We had passed the finish and had gone an extra leg! We headed back for the commitee boat and the finish. Good thing we were the only Tiger! The 18's, which we had massively outdistanced, were finished before we got there.
If we forget that day 1 happened, it was an amazing weekend. I sit this Monday morning, a little stiff, with a bruise on my hip from laying across the forward crossbeam, and a Tiger 'love-bite': some missing skin on the pinky of one hand from hand-over-handing the spinnaker halyard.
I can't wait to do this again!
Unofficial Fleet 72 Communications Officer and Div 4 Webmaster